previous next


Imogen's bedchamber in Cymbeline's palace: a trunk in one corner of it. IMOGEN in bed, reading; a Lady attending.

Who's there? my woman Helen?

Please you, madam.

What hour is it?

Almost midnight, madam.

I have read three hours then: mine eyes are weak:

Fold down the leaf where I have left: to bed:

Take not away the taper, leave it burning;

And if thou canst awake by four o' the clock,

I prithee, call me. Sleep hath seized me wholly. [Exit Lady.

To your protection I commend me, gods.

From fairies and the tempters of the night (10)

Guard me, beseech ye. [Sleeps.
Iachimo comes from the trunk.

The crickets sing, and man's o'er- labor'd sense

Repairs itself by rest. Our Tarquin thus

Did softly press the rushes, ere he waken'd

The chastity he wounded. Cytherea,

How bravely thou becomest thy bed, fresh lily,

And whiter than the sheets! That I might touch!

But kiss; one kiss! Rubies unparagon'd,

How dearly they do't! 'Tis her breathing that

Perfumes the chamber thus: the flame o' the taper

Bows toward her, and would under-peep her lids, (21)

To see the enclosed lights, now canopied

Under these windows, white and azure laced

With blue of heaven's own tinct. But my design,

To note the chamber: I will write all down:

Such and such pictures; there the window; such

The adornment of her bed; the arras; figures,

Why, such and such; and the contents o' the story.

Ah, but some natural notes about her body,

Above ten thousand meaner moveables (30)

Would testify, to enrich mine inventory.

O sleep, thou ape of death, lie dull upon her!

And be her sense but as a monument,

Thus in a chapel lying! Come off, come off: [Taking off her bracelet.

As slippery as the Gordian knot was hard!

'Tis mine; and this will witness outwardly,

As strongly as the conscience does within,

To the madding of her lord. On her left breast

A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops

I' the bottom of a cowslip: here's a voucher, (40)

Stronger than ever law could make: this secret

Will force him think I have pick'd the lock and ta'en

The treasure of her honor. No more. To what end?

Why should I write this down, that's riveted,

Screw'd to my memory? She hath been reading late

The tale of Tereus; here the leaf's turn'd down

Where Philomel gave up. I have enough:

To the trunk again, and shut the spring of it.

Swift, swift, you dragons of the night, that dawning

May bare the raven's eye! I lodge in fear; (50)

Though this a heavenly angel, hell is here. [Clock strikes.

One, two, three: time, time! [Goes into the trunk. The scene closes.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (12 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: